1872 Canadian federal election

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1872 Canadian federal election
Canadian Red Ensign (1868-1921).svg
  1867 July 20–October 12, 1872 1874  

200 seats in the House of Commons
101 seats needed for a majority
Turnout70.3% [1] (Decrease2.svg2.8pp)
 First partySecond party
  John A Macdonald (ca. 1875).jpg Edward Blake.jpg
Leader John A. Macdonald Edward Blake (unofficial)
Party Conservative Liberal
Leader since1867
Leader's seat Kingston Bruce South [lower-alpha 1]
Last election100 seats, 34.5%62 seats, 22.7%
Seats won10094
Seat changeSteady2.svg0Increase2.svg34
Popular vote123,100110,556

Canada 1872 Federal Election.svg
1872 Canadian electoral map

Chambre des Communes 1872.png
The Canadian parliament after the 1872 election

Prime Minister before election

John A. Macdonald

Prime Minister after election

John A. Macdonald

The 1872 Canadian federal election was held from July 20 to October 12, 1872, to elect members of the House of Commons of Canada of the 2nd Parliament of Canada. Prime Minister Sir John A. Macdonald's Conservative Party remained in power, defeating the Liberals. However, the Liberals increased their parliamentary representation considerably, while the Conservative seat count remained static, giving them only six more seats than the Liberals. The election produced the country's first minority government. The support of two independent Conservative MPs functionally gave Macdonald an extremely slim majority that allowed it to survive for two years, until it fell due to scandal.


Edward Blake, who had a seat in both the House of Commons of Canada and the Ontario legislature, resigned as Premier of Ontario in order to run in the 1872 federal election as dual mandates had been abolished. Had the Liberals won the election, he likely would have been offered the position of Prime Minister of Canada. The party had no formal leader as such until 1873 when Alexander Mackenzie was given the title after Blake declined due to ill health. Blake was ill during much of the 1872 campaign, and it was Mackenzie who essentially led the Liberal campaign in Ontario, though not outside the province.

The 1872 general election was the first to include the new provinces of Manitoba and British Columbia, which had both joined Canada after the Confederation of 1867. By-elections had been held in both provinces to elect Members of Parliament in the newly created ridings, with Manitoba receiving four seats and British Columbia six. (In 1870 Canada had also expanded to include the current provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan and the Territories, but no MPs were elected there until 1887.) In 1873, PEI joined Confederation and six more seats were added to the House of Commons, all filled by acclamations in by-elections.

Electoral System

Most of the ridings in this election elected just one member through First past the post, but two ridings, Ottawa and Halifax, elected two members, with each voter casting up to two votes (Plurality block voting). [2]



1872 Canadian parliament.svg
2nd Parliament
PartyParty leader# of candidatesSeatsPopular vote
1867 ElectedChange#%Change
  Conservative Sir John A. Macdonald 927162-11.3%82,02425.76%+2.31pp
  Liberal-Conservative 1482937+24.1%41,07612.90%+1.82pp
  Liberal none (unofficially, Edward Blake)1116294+53.2%110,55634.72%+12.05pp
 Independents4-2 5,2131.64%+1.25pp
 Independent Conservative3-2 2,2200.70%+0.70pp
 Independent Liberal4-2 5,2321.64%+0.98pp
  Conservative Labour  1-1 1,4220.45%+0.45pp
Source: Parliament of Canada

Note:1 Though identifying themselves as Liberal-Conservatives, these MPs and those identifying as Conservatives were both led by Sir John A. Macdonald (himself a Liberal-Conservative) and sat together in the House of Commons.


The following MPs were acclaimed:

Results by province

Party name  BC  Manitoba Ontario Quebec  NB   NS  Total
  Conservative Seats1126252762
 Popular vote4.529.725.931.58.423.525.8
  Liberal-Conservative Seats3112123637
 Vote  11.910.517.819.812.9
  Liberal Seats2148269894
  Conservative Labour Seats  1   1
 Vote  0.9   0.4
 IndependentSeats  -11-2
 Vote  0.81.7 6.11.6
 Independent LiberalSeats  1 1 2
 Vote  1.7  6.11.6
 Independent ConservativeSeats 1 1  2
 Vote 19.8 2.2  0.7
Total seats6488651621200

See also


  1. Blake was also elected in Durham West; he chose to sit for Bruce South instead, and resigned as the Member of Parliament for Durham West.

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  1. "Voter Turnout at Federal Elections and Referendums". Elections Canada. Retrieved 10 March 2019.
  2. Parliamentary Guide 1977, p. 380-381, 418